Blessings and curses

Israel were not expected to serve God for nothing. If (as a nation) they observed His laws, He promised to reward them (as a nation) with material blessings (Leviticus 26:1-13). He would supply their needs (by giving them rain at the right time and in the right amount), and He would make their borders secure – so that they would both eat and sleep well. But the greatest blessing of all would be the immediacy of His presence; He would not confine Himself to His Tabernacle (as if under house arrest) but would move freely amongst His people and enjoy their company.

These blessings were never presented as individual ‘wages’ for good service; they would be the experience of the community as a whole. Nevertheless, a healthy relationship with God will bear fruit in an individual’s life also (John 15:8). The blessings of the New Covenant are spiritual, not material – but they will nevertheless be tangible. God is as close to us as He was to His ancient people (II Corinthians 6:16). The world may despise us, but we can hold our heads high; we are no longer enslaved to sin, but are the children of God (John 8:36).

But there is another side to the coin: the benefits of keeping the covenant are balanced by the perils of breaking it (Leviticus 26:14-39). We cannot take God’s blessings for granted – under certain circumstances they may be withdrawn from us. He will not force us to obey Him; but if we are persistently rebellious and refuse to listen to His voice, sooner or later there will be consequences. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit. from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7,8) Israel were eventually exiled from the Promised Land because of their idolatry, and churches are not immune to a similar fate (Revelation 2:5).

But cursing is not God’s final word; His intention is never to destroy His people but to discipline them (Leviticus 26:40-45). So there is no ‘point of no return’: at any time, if we humble themselves, confess our sin and repent, our relationship with God will be restored (Revelation 3:19).

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